Exploring the Past

The old Central Market has been restored and reopened. I went there yesterday to see what photographic opportunities I could find. Heritage preservation / restoration is not one of the strong points here and the quote below is not atypical.


“An architectural gem has become a sterile cacophony of mostly unneeded shops.”

https://hongkongfp.com/2021/09/11/a-gentrified-mess-how-hong-kongs-central-market-restoration-tarnished-an-architectural-gem/

Some of Fan Ho’s most iconic photographs were taken here.

https://fanho-forgetmenot.com/blog/2021/8/23/hong-kong-central-market


I went to see if I could find inspiration. I did a recce a few weeks ago and wasn’t sure the magic had been preserved. Set aside the trashy shops and the fact that the tribute to Fan Ho consists of just 3 photographs tucked away where few will find them, what I was after was light. Perhaps I need to try different times of the day but yesterday was disappointing. I found one spot where the harsh contrasts gave some pleasing opportunities but none of the soft rays bathing the main staircase. I think there may be a project here. However photography is about creating in the present not copying the past.

Walking through light 1
Central Market, November 6th 2021 © the photographer

I tried shooting the main staircases and my 35mm lens was probably about the right focal length although I think experimenting with a 24mm lens is worthwhile. Shooting across the staircase a 50mm lens would have been fine. There was just nothing to capture my attention. The image above was taken at the top not the bottom. The entrance from another walkway has people walking through regularly. Ideally what I look for is balance in the figures. Here I am trying to balance the figures and their shadows. It is not quite right but close and I like the pool of light at their feet. This is very 2021 as the only face-lit figure wears a mask that gives his shadow a simian appearance as does the exaggerated hunched appearance created by the angle.

For Fan Ho aficionados like me it is good to know that a new Fan Ho book is imminent. You can order from Blue Lotus Gallery here https://bluelotus-gallery.com/shop/photography-my-passion-my-life-fan-ho (I have no financial interest in the gallery!)

Later I found another spot where I think the light and shapes have potential. Called simply The Center this tall office building has some interesting geometry at the base and the shiny metals and glass create pools and ripples of light with hard shadows in sunlight. I sat down to rest here back from the hubbub of Queen’s Road Central. Only then did I see the potential. I think a 50mm lens would have been better but I do have some images taken with the 35mm on my Flickr page.

Every time I go out it is an exploration of light. No two trips are the same. This is the attraction of photography, whatever the genre.

11 thoughts on “Exploring the Past

  1. This along with the other you shared on FB are fine studies in light and form, Andrew. You’ve an excellent eye for such. I’ll be looking forward to your return efforts.

    • Thanks Steve. It is all a bit experimental. A ‘proper’ walk tomorrow as the temperatures have dropped and I may find a bird or two. Fingers crossed.

  2. I have to stop and rest now, and I’m finding that is when I see something inspiring. Good thing age has gifts to go with the aches!

    • Isn’t it often the case, Melissa. I found my best butterfly of the year when I stopped to put my bag down and drink water. It was on a branch next to me. I would have walked straight past it. Yes, age has its compensations.

      • The thought of a butterfly or a bird “waiting” for you to pause for a drink makes me smile.

  3. Simian appearance had me going back for another look so I could see something that appeared as you describe. Yes he does look a bit like that but I find it most interesting to see such a stark photo that consists of stairs and people wearing masks. It seems a fine abstract in my little old eyes. To deviate a bit, if folks here would wear masks as people do in Hong Kong the USA would be far ahead of the game.

    • It is mandatory here Yvonne. Masks can be taken off in Country Parks and when eating and drinking in restaurants. Otherwise only in your own home. We have zero Covid. That’s not a typo. Zero. However it comes at a price. If you leave HK most people have to do 21 days quarantine on return. That means business people really can’t travel. The economic price has been terrible. There is no change in sight for the next 12 months. Vaccination or not. I am about to get my 3rd (booster) vaccination. It won’t help me travel. There is no easy answer.

      • I figured that Hong Kong was very strict concerning covid. Here the country was led by the wanna be dictator for four years and I really feel that he put the states on a downward and backward spiral. We have the red states that have crazed governors who fight tooth and nail to prevent mandatory mask wearing. It has distressed me to no end by as my daughter says, ” you can do no nothing about it so stop reading about it.” Anyway, I follow masking and only go out in public if absolutely necessary, I use curbside pickup for food and supplies. I completed my vaccinations by February 4th. I hope to get my booster this week or next.

      • Your daughter is right in theory but it is so difficult. We have our boosters on Nov 19th but we can’t go anywhere! I have given up trying to understand US politics – or UK politics for that matter. It is a very sad state of affairs.

    • That’s so true. I always find visiting somewhere a second time more productive. And if everything stayed the same we would soon become bored with it.

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